What's the story?
Kambala jockey Srinivasa Gowda, who has shot to fame in the past few days, will undergo trials at a SAI center only after the Kambala season is over.
For the uninitiated, Kambala is an annual buffalo race that is held annually in Karnataka. Kambala jockey Srinivas Gowda came into the limelight when he clocked just 13.62 seconds to cover a distance of 145 metres during a race. He soon became a viral sensation for his astonishing feat. There were also reports that Srinivas completed 100m of the total 145m in just 9.55 seconds.
Netizens started comparing him to track legend Usain Bolt, who holds the 100m record with a timing of 9.58 seconds. Gowda has won an astounding 29 prizes in the 12 Kambalas that he has taken part in.
Minister of State for the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Kiren Rijuju, had invited Gowda for formal trials. However, Gowda, who works as a construction labourer during the Kambala off-season, had refused to undergo trials at the SAI centre in Bangalore, at least till the end of the Kambala season.
The heart of the matter
It has now been learnt that he will undergo the trials at the end of the Kambala season. Gowda, who hails from Mudbidri, met SAI officials on Monday. Captain Ajay Kumar Bahl, Senior Director at SAI, told The Times of India:
"He (Gowda) says he still has four more races lined up. He is busy till March and will be able to come (for the assessment) only after his season is over. Thereafter, we have to start fresh as he has to be groomed completely. He hasn't said no. He appears to be a good talent and SAI welcomes him. We will nurture his talent for a podium finish. We will have to expose him to sports science, medicine, and nutrition, best of diet. He needs to learn a lot of things, like from barefoot (running) he needs to wear shoes and then move to spikes."
The top SAI official also remarked that even though 'age is not on his side, various other things are.' Gowda is also not financially well-off so that also might come into the picture and he may be attracted to a career in athletics. On the sidelines of the event for Khelo India University Games' (KIUG) anthem launch, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju also spoke on the matter and said,
"Media can't control things with people writing anything in social media these days. If any talent comes to our notice we will give him a platform, an opportunity. The standard of Olympics and world championships is very high. You can't compare people who play traditional sports with international champions unless we don't assess them officially, check their records. We want to give it an official trial. We will take a proper trial under top coaches and if there is talent, then we will bring them in the national camp."
Only time will tell if Srinivasa Gowda's brilliant performance during the Kambala Season has been blown out of proportion or if indeed, he is a special talent worthy of being compared to Usain Bolt.